Different Types of Web Hosting Explained!

Web Hosting Types

Different Types of Hosting

Choosing the right web hosting plan can seem a bit daunting, especially if you aren’t a techie. So, in this post we’ll take a look at the differences between the four different types of hosting- Shared, SSD, VPS Hosting, and Dedicated Server.

Check out our Pickaweb web hosting plans

Let’s run through each in our beginner´s guide.

Which Hosting Should I Choose? 

which web hosting should I choose

Choosing the Right Hosting

If you are wondering which type of hosting is best for your website you have come to the right place.

In this post we explain how to choose the best web hosting option.

You’ve got your company registered, chosen your domain name, got a new website designed and you’re almost ready to go, but you need a home for that beautiful new website. Suddenly you’ve got a load of choices in terms of what web hosting platform to use.

So what’s the deal? Do you need shared, reseller or a VPS? What happens if you’re a Web Designer or Web Developer looking for hosting for your clients’ websites? Which is the best option for you?

Actually, it’s pretty straightforward as we shall explain.

Types of Web Hosting

Watch this video on how to choose the right hosting

Shared Hosting

This type of web hosting  is a great place to start. Among other types of hosting plans, it’s the one that most people will be familiar with. It’s called shared hosting because your data (website files, databases, emails etc.) are stored on a powerful server along with other customers’. It is suitable for absolute beginners.

The advantage of shared is that it’s low cost and has all the features you would need such as a hosting control panel (we use cPanel) where you manage all the aspects of your hosting like setting up email addresses. You also get access to a Website Builder Tool to allow you to build a stunning new website.

With shared you are sharing all of the main resources of the server such as the CPU, RAM memory and disk space with other customers on the server. In order to prevent any one particular customer from using all of the server’s resources (and affecting other customers), we use a tool called CloudLinux, which keeps the resources spread evenly over all the customers’ accounts on the server.

On our shared servers, we use Dell hardware and all servers are equipped with Dual Power Supplies, Dual Processors and 10K SAS Enterprise hot swap hard drives in a RAID10 configuration. This means that redundancy is built in to our servers to ensure maximum uptime.

To give you an analogy, shared is like flying business class. You get plenty of room along with a great selection of destinations, but you have to fly from a standard airport and in terms of onboard  cuisine, you can choose from the standard menu on offer.

See the following infographic listing the different types of hosting based on knowledge, budget and requirements.

which web hosting should I choose

SSD Hosting

If you want super fast hosting, our SSD Hosting is the plan to go for. It’s the same as shared, but we use super fast Solid State Drives (SSD).  These are incredibly fast; that is becoming more and more important these days especially since the speed at which your website loads is a ranking factor with Google.

With SSD drives there are no moving parts, unlike traditional hard drives. They are electronic devices and they are extremely quick and reliable so there are some serious advantages with SSD hosting. In this type of hosting, we restrict the number of domains on one server to ensure the highest possible level of service.

Going back to the analogy above, SSD hosting is like flying first class in a supersonic jet. You get the same choice of great destinations, the menu is set for you but you get to your destination much, much faster and you share the cabin with fewer passengers.

See Pickaweb’s SSD Hosting packages from £9.99

Reseller Hosting

OK, onto reseller hosting.

Now if you are a web designer, web developer or other web professional then a reseller plan may be an interesting option for you.

A reseller hosting package allows you to become a mini hosting business, selling hosting to your clients and generating a valuable recurring revenue for your business.

The way that it works is that you are allocated a bulk amount of a server’s resources (i.e. disk space and bandwidth) which you can then resell onto your clients. You have a master administration area (we use cPanel/WHM) where you can administer all of your clients accounts (create, modify, delete, etc.) and your clients have their own control panel (cpanel) access where they manage all aspects of their accounts.

In reality most resellers will find that their clients actually use a tiny percentage of the features of cPanel and this is usually restricted to things like setting up email accounts, etc..

The real advantage for you as a reseller is that by giving your clients an unbranded control panel you are allowing them to take control of their hosting. That way they won’t need to contact you to create email addresses or to reset a password. cPanel is pretty intuitive and easy to use so most of your clients can manage this.

If you are building or managing websites for clients that do not require any exotic settings or software then a reseller service will be ideal for you. As long as you remain within the disk space and bandwidth of your account then it is a really attractive option.

See Pickaweb’s reseller hosting plans starting from £9.99

Of course, as your business grows and you find that you need more resources then there is a natural upgrade path to a Virtual Private Server or VPS. We’ll come onto that in a moment.

As a Web Designer or Developer you may want to offer your clients as much functionality as possible for their websites. That could be a shopping cart or a content management system (CMS) like WordPress or Joomla. One of the neat things about being a reseller is that you can install all of these applications very quickly using the Softaculous feature in cPanel. This way you have a lot of upgrade and value added services you can use to grow your business.

A definite advantage of a Reseller is that it is very cost effective and does not involve a huge learning curve.

At Pickaweb we will make sure that the server your clients are hosted on is kept secure and up to date. Basically we do all of the system administration tasks like updating the kernel and other key software configurations and for ensuring that the server is safe, secure and up to date.

This is an important consideration because once you move up to a VPS that is your responsibility whether or not you do it yourself or pay someone to do that on your behalf. Whilst it doesn’t cost much, that is something to be aware of.

Another point worth bearing in mind if you are a designer or developer is the configuration you require. Let’s say that you are building a site that requires a particular version of PHP. It could be that it is the very latest version for example. With your reseller account you are limited to the software configuration that the provider company considers to be stable and which they are willing to support.

So let’s say you wanted to run a particular application that runs PHP version x that your provider does not support on their shared servers. In this case you would need to go for a VPS for that custom configuration. Ultimately it is your client who needs that level of customization so this is a cost that you should consider passing on to them and be able to justify in terms not only of the functionality but also the level of performance that they will experience with a VPS.

Also with a Reseller account you may find that there are certain restrictions for security purposes. In particular many developers will require SSH access only to find that this is not permitted on shared or reseller for security reasons. Again, in these cases a VPS may be a better option.

VPS Hosting

When we looked at shared hosting above, one of the main points to consider is that you are sharing the server’s key resources such as RAM and CPU. You are also restricted from changing any of the server’s configuration settings (i.e. version of PHP, security settings). For most people, that won’t be an issue. But if you are running a busy website/eCommerce store or you want to run a particular configuration that your website software requires, a VPS Hosting will definitely meet your needs.

The way that a Virtual Private Server or VPS works is that a physical server is split into several virtual servers. See what it is. In this type of hosting, each server is its own self contained unit and it’s allocated its own guaranteed resources such as CPU, RAM and disk space. The advantage to you is that you can have all of the power and functionality of a dedicated server but at a fraction of the cost. Each VPS has its own hosting control panel too and you can choose which operating system you require whether it is a Linux based one (eg: CentOS, Debian, Ubuntu) or Windows. You can choose whether you want a 1GB, 2GB or 4GB VPS Plan.

Our VPS Hosting is offered via our high availability cloud infrastructure. What this means is that your data is stored across many different hard drives on several physical servers. The result is that the possibility of hardware related downtime is dramatically reduced because if one server fails the data is available via the other servers in the cloud. The cloud also means that if you need more power, you just upgrade your plan and it’s done in an instant. There is no waiting around.

With our VPS we have two types for you to choose from. We have fast UK VPS which uses fast, Enterprise grade 10K SAS hard drives and our SSD VPS which use super fast SSD drives.

Going back to the airline analogy VPS Hosting is the equivalent of a Private Jet club where you get full use without owning the plane. You get to choose where you fly to and when. There are very few other passengers on board, the menu is a la carte and if you need to get there in supersonic time the SSD VPS is the one to go for.

See Pickaweb’s VPS Hosting packages from £9.99

Unmanaged vs Managed VPS

Of course using a VPS comes with some responsibilities in terms of Server Administration. These include:

  • Initial server security settings (server hardening)
  • Performance Monitoring
  • Kernel updates (Linux)
  • Checking Logs
  • Back up checks
  • Ongoing security monitoring and patching

As you can imagine these are not tasks that can be performed by someone with little or no knowledge of server administration.

But don’t let that put you off. You can just opt for a managed VPS and let your support team take care of these tasks for you. The cost is minor compared to the benefits of having your VPS managed professionally as well as the peace of mind that your server is secure from external threats.

Managed VPS and Dedicated Servers

One thing that may concern you about upgrading to a VPS or a Dedicated Server is the prospect of managing it. Some people love server administration and that’s great – they get full root access and can run it how they want. But if you just want to focus on running your business with no desire to manage your VPS or Dedicated Server, leave it to us.

We’ll set it up, configure it, make sure it’s kept up to date and anything else to make sure it runs the way it should. You can order the Managed Service when you order your service.

Dedicated Servers

Finally we come to Dedicated Servers. For those of you not familiar with the terminology a Dedicated Server is a physical server which is rented to the client on a monthly basis and includes the rackspace, network connectivity, IP services and optional value added services such as extended support. For the client this means they do not have to make the costly upfront investment in a server.

Until the advent of the VPS this was typically the only way to ensure that you could ensure that you had a high powered and secure option to host your websites or applications.

However, as we have already seen the VPS is a really attractive option for a number of reasons such as speed of deployment, flexibility, scalability, High Availability, etc.. You could be forgiven for thinking that a Dedicated Server is a bit of a plodding dinosaur compared to the nimble, fast moving VPS option.

But the Dedicated Server still has a place in the market and should still be considered for high end users and here’s why.

More Control and Security

With a VPS you have full control over your virtualized server but you are still sharing a physical machine with several other VPS users. With a Dedicated Server that situation simply doesn’t arise because you are in full control of the hardware and software on your server.

This is especially important from a security perspective. Security experts tend to think in absolute, black and white terms. If it is mathematically possible for an event to occur then that must be taken into account in any risk assessment. Despite the risk of your VPS being adversely affected by ‘noisy neighbours’ sharing the same hardware being very small, if high levels of security are demanded by your business needs then a Dedicated Server removes that risk from the equation.

Resource Availability

Likewise, when it comes to the server’s physical resources you are not sharing these with anyone else. A Dedicated Server gives you full, uninterrupted access to all of the server’s key resources such as CPU, RAM and Hard Drives.

Hardware Customization

With a VPS you get what you are given. As long as you trust the host to provide you with a rock solid platform then this shouldn’t be an issue. However, in some instances it may be more appropriate for you to define the hardware requirements.

Let’s consider an example whereby you are running a particular application that requires write intensive hard drives. If you were to go with a standard VPS set up you may find that the hard drives on offer quickly become a bottleneck. This would be a major issue in a live environment and could have been addressed early on by the correct hardware specification.

The same could apply to the preference of RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks). RAID is a way of configuring the disks to minimize the possibility of data loss due to hardware failure. There are a number of RAID options and describing them is beyond the scope of this document, but suffice to say that different RAID options apply for different situations and depending on the application being deployed there are benefits to each type.

The bottom line though is that if you have a pressing need to define the hardware tightly and be in control then a Dedicated Server is the right option.

Server Administration

Finally, as with the VPS option you must take into account server management and administration. A Dedicated Server is not a ‘set it and forget it’ option. You will need to maintain security and keep monitoring your server and update it when necessary. If you are not an experienced server administrator then you should definitely consider a Managed Server to ensure that you server is performing as it should.

Summary

So let’s just run through the options again for you:

  • Shared Hosting – great for entry level sites
  • SSD Hosting – perfect for ecommerce sites or blogs where speed is of the essence
  • Reseller – ideal for developers or web professionals on a budget who do not build demanding or ecommerce sites or sites that have custom configurations
  • VPS – ideal for developers or web professionals who need scalability and customisation
  • SSD VPS – perfect for websites that require scalability, customisation and exceptional performance
  • Dedicated Server – The perfect choice when physical security and performance are required

I hope you found useful this guide on which hosting to choose and the different types.

Thanks for reading and leave your questions below to keep the conversation going.

Which one of these hosting types are you familiar with? 

We hope you have found this tutorial useful on the different types of web hosting.

Thanks for reading and leave your questions below to keep the conversation going.

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